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Captain Bodgit Forced to Retire

Horse racing: Injury to foreleg suffered at Pimlico causes Kentucky Derby runner-up and Preakness third-place finisher to quit.

May 22, 1997|BOB MIESZERSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Four days after being involved in one of the most exciting races in the history of the Preakness, Captain Bodgit was retired Wednesday because of an injury in his left front leg.

Captain Bodgit "ruptured the deep flexor tendon in his left foreleg," according to Barry Irwin, president of Team Valor, the Pasadena-based syndicate that owns the colt. Irwin said the injury probably occurred during the Preakness, where Captain Bodgit finished third, a head behind Free House, who was second by a head to Silver Charm.

Captain Bodgit was second by a head to Silver Charm in the Kentucky Derby.

Never worse than third in 12 starts, Captain Bodgit won the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park and the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct before embarking on the Triple Crown trail.

He was to continue on to Belmont Park and the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes on June 7, but trainer Gary Capuano noticed swelling in Captain Bodgit's leg on Monday morning.

"Gary called me and said there was some filling," Irwin said. "He called a veterinarian, who told him to use a medication to draw out the filling. An ultrasound scan was done [Tuesday] and a lesion was found in the tendon."

The colt has had a suspicious-looking tendon in his left front leg since he was a 2-year-old, but the latest injury was different.

"That [the protruding tendon] just looks bad," Irwin said.

The news of Captain Bodgit's retirement hit jockey Alex Solis hard. Hollywood Park's leading rider through the first 18 days of the meeting, he began riding the colt earlier this year and was aboard for the wins in the Florida Derby and Wood Memorial.

"He gave me one of the biggest thrills of my life in the Derby," Solis said. "He's super special in my heart. To get a horse like him, especially a great warrior like he was, gave us all some great thrills. He was amazing."

Bred in Florida by Dr. Edward Wiest, who sold him privately to Phyllis Susini last year, Captain Bodgit ran third in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 18 in his 1997 debut, then was bought by Irwin and Jeff Siegel, his Team Valor partner, for $500,000 from Susini.

As a 2-year-old, his biggest victory came in the Laurel Futurity. Captain Bodgit finished his career with seven wins, a second place and four thirds and earnings of $1,014,819.

"I think [the injury] occurred in the Preakness," Irwin said. "He looked like he [had no chance] with 100 yards to go, and I think he just overextended himself. He just tried to hurtle himself past those two horses [Silver Charm and Free House].

"It's disappointing, but not devastating. All you want from your horses is to prove what they can do, and he certainly proved what he could do. He leaves with a glowing reputation."

Still at Capuano's barn at Bowie Race Course in Maryland, Captain Bodgit, son of Saint Ballado, will be sold for breeding, and interest has already been shown. Prospective buyers from Japan were scheduled to come see the colt in the week before the Belmont Stakes.

"He doesn't even know he's injured," Capuano said. "He's in no pain, he jogs sound and is ready to go again right now. That's him."

Solis saw a kindred spirit in Captain Bodgit. "I came to know a great deal about his mentality, being on him," Solis said. "I learned so very much about his courage. I felt he was like me in that he just kept trying and trying until he got things done. That's how I felt we were able to communicate so well. I felt we were the same way. People who know me how hard I try in everything I do. I think the reason we got along so well is that we both are hard triers.

"It's so sad this had to happen to him. You have to have a great deal of respect for that horse and for [Capuano]. This guy did a fantastic job with him to keep him going and going. I just hope we get another like him soon. Hopefully, one of his babies."

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